Monday, 5 May 2008

SQL Server Releases

Microsoft have announced that they are changing their approach to releases for SQL Server. This is interesting because SQL Server releases can be a touchy subject for businesses, particularly those with big server farms. Inevitably the development team wants the Service Pack to be installed ASAP whereas the server team is keen to protect their stable server and pretend service packs don't exist. This means a lot of pushing and shoving.

This new approach should help to alleviate the pressure a little but I'm not altogether convinced.

· Smaller Service Packs which will be easier to deploy
I suspect smaller service packs will make server teams less inclined to come to the party because less inclusions on a per service pack basis inherently implies more service packs.

· Higher quality of Service Pack releases due to reduced change introduced
It's all very well to say that the quality is better but that's a very airy fairy 'benefit' which I can't imagine will go down very effectively with server teams as an argument for implementation. It's just not very quantitative which means server teams are likely to ignore it.

· Predictable Service Pack scheduling to allow for better customer test scheduling and deployment planning.
On this point, I demure. This can have a huge impact on getting releases implemented. Presuming of course that you can get your server team to operate on a scheduled release process themselves. It's all very well for the vendor to do it but if the server team doesn't ALSO do it, there's no gain. That said, I believe that such a process SHOULD be followed. I just don't see it as terribly likely. I fervently hope to be disproven.

It's really easy to be cynical about this approach and say 'my organisation will never do this'. Which is the trap I've fallen into here I realise, but the fact of the matter is, good on Microsoft for considering these issues and attempting to find ways to improve them. The approach is right and a positive move. Now the onus is on us to follow in their footsteps. This should be a wakeup call to server and development teams to find more common ground, to develop processes which satisfy everyone's needs and to communicate with each other better.

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